On May 30, the final load of ore — a.k.a. the last “skip” — will rise from the depths of Stobie Mine.
A producing mine for more than 120 years, Vale announced back in March that because of low metal prices and declining ore grades, the Stobie Mine would be put into care and maintenance. Not only does this impact 230 workers, it means a piece of the city’s mining history will be shuttered.
Vale doesn’t plan to allow the milestone to pass unrecognized, however. Employees and retirees are invited out to Stobie on May 30 to watch as the skip rises up the shaft for one final time. The event begins at 10:30 a.m.*
Following the last skip ceremony (which will be broadcast with a live feed), the mine is hosting a barbecue. Attendees can also take a walk down memory lane with an on-site historical display.
Vale has also had a time capsule specially constructed that will be lowered underground before the mine is put into care and maintenance. Those invited to the last skip ceremony are invited to contribute a small item (photo, letter, tag etc.) related to Frood-Stobie into the capsule before it makes its long descent.
The company said the mine’s future has been under review for some time citing metal prices, ongoing market challenges and recent seismic activity that restricted production below the 3,000-foot level.
“This is a necessary decision, but a sad one,” said Stuart Harshaw, Vale’s vice-president of Ontario operations, in a statement. “Stobie has a rich history and has been integral to our success for more than a century. However, after more than 100 years of operation, the mine is approaching the end of its natural life. The low grades at Stobie are no longer economical to mine in today’s challenging price environment.”
In more than 120 years of production, Stobie produced more ore than any other mine in the history of Sudbury, according to Vale.
Stobie began as an open pit operation in 1890. Underground operations started in 1914. With more than 375,000,000 tonnes produced over the years, more ore has been mined out of the Frood-Stobie complex than any other mine in the Sudbury Basin. The suspension of operations at Stobie will result in a reduction of about four to six kilotonnes of nickel and 5-8 kilotonnes of copper production annually.
*This event is not open to the public and is by invite only.